Time was pale, shaking, and terrified out of his mind. A second ago he’d been trapped in an alley and about to be consumed by purple flames. His friends had all been screaming.
Now, everything was back how it had been before the flames.
Darina sunk to the floor, looking just as frightened as Time. “A-am I dead?” She whispered. She wrapped her arms around herself. She was also shaking. “I-I was burning… And… I’m n-not now…” She was one of Time’s closest friends. She had brown skin, blue-black hair that was kept up in two space buns, and blue eyes. She had the beginnings of vitiligo on her forearms and a silver piercing on her left eyebrow. She had blue and purple dragonfly wings.
“No...I-I don’t think we’re dead.” Time said. “I think I…” He stopped himself. If he let anyone know of his suspicions, he’d be dead by tomorrow. So he stayed silent, pretending to still be in shock of what had just happened. It wasn’t hard.
Swampy slid down from a rooftop and landed beside them, glancing around nervously...and was that also guilt? Time couldn’t imagine how she’d gotten up there. For some reason there was an owl feather in her hair.
Swampy was another close friend of Time. She had fair skin with freckles all over her arms and face. One of her eyes was blue and the other was green. Her nose was crooked and she had long brown hair that she usually kept in a ponytail.
She went over to Darina and put a comforting arm around her. “Do you think this was caused by a Sapien?” She asked, looking oddly calm. Maybe it had been her who stopped the flames and not Time himself as he suspected. Maybe she’d had magic all along and had managed to keep it secret so she knew she had nothing to worry about.
That seemed unlikely though. No offense to her, but she didn’t really seem like the magic wielding type. Besides, a Sapien with magic was almost always found out and killed within the day of the awakening of their powers. It was almost always just too obvious to hide.
“That’s….” Darina said. She took a deep breath, starting to get over her shock. “That’s the most likely scenario.”
“A Sapien must also have caused it.” Time pointed out.
Darina looked extremely worried. “Two awakenings in the same day? Is that even possible?”
“The first must have triggered the second.” Swampy said. She glanced over at Time. “You...you weren’t the one with the second awakening, are you?” She asked.
“I...don’t know.” Time said carefully. “Everything happened too quick. But, we’ll know by the end of the day either way anyway, won’t we?” He forced a smile, but it immediately dropped. “Ugh, that was a terrible joke.”
Swampy reached up and pat Time on the arm. “Yup.” She said. “But don't worry. I’m sure it wasn’t you with the awakening, and even if it was, Flutter and I could smuggle you out. Right?” She glanced over at Darina, who nodded seriously. Flutter was Swampy’s nickname for Darina.
“Same if it’s you.” Time promised. “But what do we do about the first? What if they explode again and the second doesn’t have enough magic to stop another explosion?”
“We’ll find them and smuggle them out.” Swampy said. “We’ll do the same with the first. I disapprove of murder based on your birth identity.”
“And how will we do that?” Darina asked.
“We’ll figure it out on the way!” Swampy answered cheerfully. She hopped to her feet and helped Darina up. “Did you guys see where the explosion started?”
“The school, I think.” Time answered.
“Then off to school we go!” Swampy said.
“Quickly.” Darina said. “Because if we wait any longer I think we’re gonna be late.”
With that, they all began towards the school. Looking around, they could see everyone in various states of panic, disbelief, shock, and fear. The whole street seemed to have dissolved into chaos.
Several people were glaring at Swampy and Time, as if they thought that they might have been the ones to cause the explosion.
Once, Time bumped into an Imp guy and was given a disgusted look.
Time was growing more tired by the second too. It felt like every time he took a step, he’d really just run across a room at top speed. He remembered the time the leader of the Cursed Sapien Elimination Squad (or CSES for short) came to his school to give a presentation on how they were able to sniff out cursed Sapiens. And yes, even they admitted that the name was really stupid.
They had said that Cursed Sapiens constantly leaked magic, so much that you could usually tell that they were cursed just by seeing how tired they were.
They were almost to school when they were stopped by a man in a black and white uniform. A member of CSES.
“You and you.” He said, pointing to Time and Swampy. “Come with me.” He glanced at Darina. “You can keep going.”
Darina started walking back to the school and glanced back at Swampy and Time nervously. Be careful, she mouthed.
Time swallowed. By now he was certain that he was the second Sapien, the one who had undone the explosion. Maybe they’d spare him if they found out that he’d saved everyone… No, that was unlikely at best. IF they planned on saving even a single cursed Sapien, they’d have spared the kid that had turned the deadly hurricane into a few fluffy clouds a few years back.
Too soon, it seemed, they were led inside a large stone room. There were at least fourteen other Sapien kids there, all in a long line to face the CSES people that were there. The head hadn’t arrived yet.
Swampy and Time were also put into line. Time looked closely at the other kids. He recognized most of them from school. Then he spotted one of his and Swampy’s other friends, Nightwolf.
Though Nightwolf lived in a different neighborhood and was also in a different class, they’d gotten really close with her, Swampy especially. Once Swampy had joked about adopting Nightwolf as her little sister.
Nightwolf had dark brown eyes and long black hair that had bangs long enough to almost entirely cover her left eye. Her skin was a light tan color.
Nightwolf was closer to the front of the line. Her expression betrayed no emotion, but even from where Time was he could see her hands trembling. She was obviously frightened.
And then Time saw it, the thin trail of smoke rising from Nightwolf’s palms.
He remembered something else the CSES leader had said. He had said that they believed that the incidents in which the Sapien’s curses were revealed or triggered were caused by a burst of emotion or fear for their life, which is why they’re usually revealed in their teens.
Time nudged Swampy and nodded towards Nightwolf. It took her a second to see it, but when she saw the smoke her eyes widened.
A few minutes later, the CSES people in the room saw it too. One of them whipped out a bow and aimed an arrow at Nightwolf.
Nightwolf’s eyes widened in panic and she backed away, her hands bursting into purple flames. The other kids backed away from her.
Swampy let out a scream of no, which turned into a howl as she became a husky and leapt to stop the guy. But it was too late. He’d already released the arrow.
Time took a step forward, only to find himself become dizzy. He suddenly felt as if someone had yanked him backwards and next thing he knew he was in an alley again and about to faceplant into the ground.
Everything went black.